Tongan celebrates success in Samoa

By Nefertiti Matatia ,

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A MOMENT IN TIME: Jone Halakitaua Ben Palefau, graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the National University of Samoa on Friday.

A MOMENT IN TIME: Jone Halakitaua Ben Palefau, graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the National University of Samoa on Friday.

Age does not determine success.

So says Jone Halakitau’a Ben Palefau.

The 32-year-old graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the National University of Samoa on Friday.

Despite being the oldest member in his class, it did not stop him from achieving his goal. 

“You are never too old to study. You are only limited by yourself, by your doubts. I would say school for me was like climbing the mountain.”

“There were times when the way became very slippery, I sometimes felt that I wanted to turn around and go back down where I started.”

“But even though I felt that way, I kept on walking up because once you get up there, the view is very beautiful. It is absolutely worth it.”

“Turning back will allow me to fail, but you should not do that. I am glad that I have made it this far.”

Through the power of prayer and faith, he was able to graduate with the 428 students of N.U.S.

“It was tough but it was through the help of my family, who was always praying that God is with me in my studies, that has brought me so far.”

“It was also through the support of friends and the people who were around me.”

He is from Vavau, Tonga, and has been studying in Samoa since 2011. 

Jone says his country does not have a medical school, it is just Samoa and Fiji and that is the reason he is here.

“Most of the people from Tonga go to Fiji to study medicine. There was a Tongan guy before me, he graduated last year.” 

“So I am the second one, and I think the Tongan Government is going to see how we do when I go back and when we are doing well, they’ll probably try to send their students here to Samoa,” he said.

He adds the only challenge was working with people who were non English speakers.

“The biggest challenge was the language. To people I was not able to speak English, I was trying to communicate to them in Samoan and sign language.”

“It is mostly similar to Tonga. The language is very similar that made it a lot easier. It has been awesome here in Samoa.”

When asked about future plans Jone says: “I will probably stay here in Samoa and do my internship here, which will be for two years.” 

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